Mortification Week: the wizened coworker, the hot cheetos, and more

It’s Mortification Week at Ask a Manager and all week long we’ll be revisiting ways we’ve mortified ourselves at work. Here are 16 more mortifying stories people have shared here over the years.

1. The Bailey’s

At my first corporate job, I once sent the following message to one of my work friends: “It’s Friday, and I’m working from home. This calls for Bailey’s in my coffee (and you better believe its more Bailey’s then coffee)!”

It wasn’t until after I clicked send that I realized I accidently sent it to my assigned mentor instead, who had been at the company for 15 years, was on track to a VP role, and was super tight laced. I could see the “someone is typing” dots going for a full 5 minutes, before she responded with:


My 20-something brain short-circuited, and I didn’t apologize, explain my mistake, or respond at all. I wasn’t even drinking Bailey’s and was just trying making a dumb joke with my friend, but I was so mortified. My mentor quietly canceled our weekly one on one meetings the next week.

2. The kiss

I did a pre-interview for a TV slot on ITV in the UK about my MA research, and at the end of the interview instead of doing cheek kisses with the presenter, I kissed her on the mouth. In my defense, I’m American, we don’t really do cheek kisses with people we don’t know. And I was flustered about maybe being on TV in the future (that didn’t happen, but not because of this mistake). To her credit, we’re actually very good friends now after she got over her shock and laughed her arse off at me.

3. The scale model

As a slacker student, I worked in the I.T. help office at my university and requested the solo overnight shift with the hopes of getting paid for not doing much. Serves me right because, after a month where I was lucky to log a single call in a week, something in my brain broke. I built a scale model of Stonehenge and the surrounding countryside out of a pile of new faculty laptops. My humorless boss walked in just as I was fashioning little druids out of toilet paper tubes. I didn’t get in trouble, but I was very well supervised from that point onward.

4. The wrong word

As an intern I was trying to compliment an older, seasoned woman on my team who was so smart and capable. I said something along the lines of, “You are so great and wizened.” She gave me a funny look, but I didn’t think much of it. Friends, “wizened” doesn’t mean “awesome and wise, like a wizard.”

5. The wrong word, part 2

A few years ago, I worked for a nonprofit that provided home-delivered meals to homebound seniors, as well as pet food and supplies for their pets. We had an event coming up where we would provide basic vet care, baths, and grooming for the dogs in the program and I was emailing a donor about it. I was in a rush typing the email and wrote something to the effect of, “We will also be bathing and grooming seniors’ dongs.” Yikes!

6. The hot cheetos

I had just finished eating a bag of flamin’ hot cheetos when my boss walked into my office to discuss a rather tricky situation with a junior colleague who reported to me. A couple minutes into the conversation, but mouth kept getting hotter and hotter, my water bottle was empty, and my eyes were starting to water. I finally said, “Excuse me for a moment, could I go get some water?” When I came back, I explained, and she laughed, saying, “I was wondering why you were getting so emotional over this topic! I didn’t realize it affected you so deeply.” Nope, not emotion, just hot cheetos.

7. The rap

I do my best deep work to gangster rap. I’m not sure why, I guess the beat gives me a focused energy.

I worked in an open office area that was hear-a-pin-drop quiet and full of male engineers who were old enough to be my grandfather. I (a woman 2 months out of college) was spinning mindlessly back in forth in my chair while I worked, and I ripped my headphone cords out of the computer. Suddenly, “Come here girl, let me get you out them panties” began blaring out of my computer speakers.

I frantically tried to shut off the song, but I couldn’t find the Pandora tab that was buried 3 browser windows deep. For some reason it did not occur to me to focus on muting the speakers instead. Turns out, I lose my head under pressure.

The worst part? Someone from the next cube group over called out, “This is not appropriate for an office environment, shut it off at once!” – I think he thought I was doing it on purpose??

8. The microphone

So for awhile I worked somewhere in the education branch of a local tourist attraction where on our radios everyone was referred to with their department first and then their name (Education Liz or Maintenance Tom or what have you). We had a youth volunteer named Mike (education Mike on the radio) that everyone loved; he was friendly, hard-working, competent, and one of our best volunteers.

We also had an area where we had to give presentations to visitors over the sound system. Our bosses were frustrated because the microphone for our dept was broken and they couldn’t get it fixed (all microphones were the headset type so you couldn’t just share with someone else). They finally determined that they could no longer nudge it to work with duct tape and prayer, and wanted us to know it was completely broken.

So we all show up for work one morning and are met with the horrifying note on our whiteboard in the sign-in area: “EDUCATION MIKE IS DEAD!” We were shocked and taken aback both by the idea of this wonderful teen having somehow died, and then our bosses sharing it in such a callous way. A few minutes later they strolled in cheerily to give us morning announcements, including about the mealy microphone situation, to a room full of glum and sad employees. Thankfully it was cleared up quickly, but this still makes me laugh.

9. The badly designed bathroom

Oh I’m getting a flashback to the worst designed bathrooms I’ve been in.

The stalls were narrow but long, so you couldn’t reach the door from the toilet. The locks were sliding locks that never really securely latched unless you really wiggled them into place. And the doors shifted slightly, so if someone else walked into the bathroom after you, and you didn’t spend 5 minutes making sure your door was truly latched, not just appearing to be latched, the stall doors would open themselves. And they all opened out, so you couldn’t do anything to stop it if you were in the middle of your business.

So I’m using the bathroom, unaware of these quirky doors, and someone walks in. My door slowly swings open, as I look upon it with pure terror. It slams into the next stall, making a huge noise, and the person who walked in to check their reflection was startled and turned to look for the source of the noise, and we made direct eye contact, as my pants were around my knees and I was unable to move. I didn’t know what to say/do, so I gave them a little wave and said “hey.” Which might have been the weirdest possible thing to say at that moment.

After that, I carry on with my day and head to my next class, and it turns out the person who I just exposed myself to (unintentionally) was going to be a guest lecturer for the next two weeks for my class while my professor dealt with a family emergency. She ended up being there for the entire term, so 8 weeks. She was also a lovely person and never once indicated that she remembered me from our *interesting* first meeting. I also printed out two dozen signs and hung them on the front and back of every door in that bathroom so no one would have a repeat incident.

10. The late arrival

My husband is chronically, irritating early for Everything. He dates that to the time that he was late for a Very Important Meeting, sat in the only empty chair, and found himself on the panel of presenters.

11. The ren fair

Okay. So, I had just gotten back into the ren fair life. I was also working a full time non-profit job (yeah, gotta cosplay as a responsible adult if we want those bills paid). Being the person I am, I did give my nonprofit some coupons so some of our clients could attend cheaply (we served families and people of all ages, and my fair is a nonprofit itself). One of my c-suite coworkers asked for a pair of coupons for him and his now-partner (this was one of their first dates). I happily agreed.

They came out. As my coworker is snapping pics (unknown to me), I bent down to interact with a toddler. I am extremely top-heavy. I wasn’t wearing anything that could be classed as push-up or form-fitting, but I was wearing period-appropriate, lower merchant class clothing, and wore a very “new world” bra to help rein in my bust. The bra did not help. The damsels broke free and fell out when I bent over (and my chemise was not low by any stretch of the imagination) and one of my newly escaped jailbirds smacked this unsuspecting, innocent toddler right in the forehead. I don’t know who was more horrified; me, the titty-slapped toddler, the parents who just witnessed this renaissance breast-boffing, nearby patrons who also witnessed it (including one inebriate), or my coworker who was so shocked that he hadn’t actually stopped taking photos (he’d been taking high-speed cluster shots so he could delete what he didn’t like later).

After that year, costuming tape became my b(r)e(a)st friend. The parents were very kind about the whole incident. My director’s wife assured me that I’m not the first to fall out, but thanks to my warnings to all newbies and my copious amounts of costumers tape, I hope to be the last!

12. The wrong word, part 3

When I was a brand new faculty member, I was at an all-department faculty meeting, trying to recruit other faculty to run for committees. Intending to use the metaphor of an octopus, I misspoke and said, ‘If we’re successful, we’ll be able to extend our testicles throughout the school.’”

13. The whisker

Early in my career I had just gotten promoted to a management position in the nonprofit I worked for. I had a meeting with my CFO to learn more about how we manage budgeting and tracking of expenses; everyone was terrified of her, she had a reputation for being blunt and mean. When we started the meeting, I saw a picture of her dogs on her desk – she had two huskies – and I had a husky too, so we started chatting about the trials and tribulations of being a husky parent. (Mostly it’s opinionated shnoofing, yowling, and lots and LOTS of shedding). I noticed she had a really long dog hair stuck to her cheek, so i made a crack about how you can NEVER escape the husky shedding, and I reached over to pluck the hair off her face in a show of solidarity and good natured ribbing.

It wasn’t a dog hair. Instead I tugged hard on a two-inch solitary whisker growing on her cheek.

I froze and stammered out some nonsense in a vain attempt to change the subject. Then i sat next to her for half an hour while she politely explained accounting procedures to me, and I silently prayed the earth would open up and swallow me whole.

14. The interview presentation

I worked at a national grocery store, but on the floor as a deli server. I saw an opportunity to move out of retail by applying for the more professional positions in the store (HR, marketing specialist, and educator). It didn’t matter which job it was – I just didn’t want to do retail anymore! I applied for every open position and I didn’t have the work history for any of them.

Some background, this grocer is known for large panel interviews. At the time (10 + years ago), you would do one interview with a panel and the applicant would know by the end of interview day if they got the job.

I finally got an interview for the educator position (in hindsight – they already knew who they were going to hire, but needed one more body to interview). I had to prepare a presentation and answer interview questions with 17+ people. The entire store management team had been included in the interview!

Once in the interview, the panel asked me super-specific questions like, what three chemical ingredients do we not use in our honey vanilla almond lotion? There were upwards of 15 questions that were this specific. To each and every one of them, I answered, “Hmmm, I don’t know, but I can find out the answer for you – I’ll get back to you after the interview!”

After questions, it was time to present. The interview room was set up with four folding tables all pushed together in square so that there was a large empty space in the middle. For some reason, and I don’t know why, I had decided that I needed to do my presentation in that empty space. This required me to actually duck/crawl under the table and come out on the other side. If this was all that happened, it would still be mortifying, but I actually hit my head (hard!) as I was coming up into the space. So hard that there was a little line of blood on my forehead. Not to be deterred, I stood up, acted like it didn’t happen, and continued with my presentation (which wasn’t at all what they were looking for). Everyone was so embarrassed for me that they couldn’t even look at me!

I stayed with that company for 10 more years and eventually made my way into the national offices. But! I don’t think anyone ever forgot that interview. 5 years after it happened – I was the one on a panel (at a particularly bad interview) Another panel member said (not knowing this story was about me), “At least it wasn’t as bad as the girl who hit her head in an interview!”

15. The chair

When I was an intern, we had these really expensive Herman Miller chairs at work that my manager would go on and on about how much they cost. One day, I didn’t notice I got my period and I stained the lime green fabric. I threw a bunch of papers on top of the stain ran out of work to change. When I came back no one was around so I tried to clean it. The lime green fabric was ruined. For some reason, I thought the next step would be to CUT out the stain. So I did. I cut out a HUGE hole. I then got duct tape and covered up the large hole. I ordered a seat cushion on Amazon for next day delivery. I left work and covered my chair with more papers and files. I was too ashamed to tell anyone or ask my male manger for a new chair. Time went on, I became an employee and I sat on this runined chair with the cushion for five years. Then opportunity: renovations were happening on our floor. The whole department left leaving only four people on my floor. Over the holidays, I switched out my chair with one of the chairs from the department that left. No one ever knew.

16. The barn

First job out of college on a big farm. Had just been hired full time after interning for a few months. Got to work early with the giant horse scale in the back of the truck. Backed up to the barn lalala no problem. Nope, problem. I tapped the gas a little too much, panicked, slammed the brakes to stop. But I didn’t slam the brakes, I slammed the gas. Backed right through the side of the barn. No one was at farm but one maintenance guy who I ran to crying. He came out and kept telling me it was ok. Truck bed replaceable, cracked the vinyl on the outside? No big deal. Then he walked inside the barn. Silence, then a “OH Shit.” All the cinder blocks from the foundation and up had fallen down, the whole wall on the inside was down.

Worst part was I had to call my big boss who I barely knew. He took so long to answer the phone when he did, all I could say was, “I did a bad thing” and cue the crying. He was worried I hurt myself so he all kept saying it was ok. He finally came down to the barn to check it out, and I was huddle in a fetal position crying my eyes out. I will never forget him laughing as he pulled up. 10 years later it is still his favorite story to tell, I never say a word when someone gets in an accident, and somewhere on a hard drive is a picture of sad and crying 20 year old me next to a broken barn door.

{ 304 comments… read them below }

  1. Wordnerd*

    Hahahahaha #4 I definitely said that to my father when I was about 10 years old. It’s really unfair that that word doesn’t mean “wise and wizardly”.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I agree! I’ve never used it that way (can’t remember a time in my life when I’ve ever written or said that word, actually) but it totally *should* mean wise and wizardly.

    2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      That “Friend, wizened means…” reminded me of how Andy Griffith told stories in his stand up days and I laughed even harder.

    3. metadata minion*

      I like etymology so I just went and checked to see if it was one of those things where it went wise –> elderly –> shriveled, and no, sadly the words are totally unrelated.

    4. Artemesia*

      My similar misuse early in my career was ‘notorious’ thinking it meant very famous. I had off the charts verbal scores, was well read — just don’t know how I managed to escape the actual meaning of this word — used it when introducing a somewhat controversial politician whose positions I didn’t agree with. So pretty much a disastrous and unrecoverable moment.

      1. i'm walking here*

        I had a similar situation as a kid with “infamous.” I thought it meant “famous in a small geographical area”!

    5. prepare to copy*

      I had to seek the knowledge of professor Google on the word, then snorted audibly in my (thankfully) empty office when I read the definition.

    6. allathian*

      One that I’ve actually seen on a job ad was “salary commiserate with experience.”

  2. Caramel & Cheddar*

    #1 “My mentor quietly canceled our weekly one on one meetings the next week.”

    I feel like your mentor missed a very obvious mentoring opportunity here by canceling!

    1. Sir Ulrich von Liechtenstein*

      Agreed! This is the low-hanging fruit of mentoring, not an excuse to quit!

    2. ellielock*

      I was thinking the same thing. Also, maybe they shouldn’t have been a mentor if this one incident (assuming) would make them cancel their meetings.

      1. J G Shmellons*

        To be fair – if I had a mentee who managed to, in one email, both gleefully indicate they were drinking on the job *and* demonstrate a gnarly blindness to detail (then/than), I would also throw my hands up and think it a DNR situation.

        1. I'm Just Here for the Cake*

          If you are going to give up over a badly thought out joke and a type-o, you probably shouldn’t be a mentor.

        2. Still*

          What? It was a bad joke, yes, but why on Earth would you assume that the person is beyond help, especially if they’re relatively new to the professional world, and especially if they haven’t previously shown poor judgement? When you’re specifically supposed to be the person who guides them in their role?

          And really, I don’t think a typo in a casual internal chat conversation is worth pointing out at all, and it strikes me as a weird thing to focus on under the circumstances.

          The whole point of these posts is that we’ve all done mortifying things, we’ve all learnt from them, and are now responsible professionals who are doing just fine, no matter how much we cringe thinking of our past actions. And we can hopefully extend some grace to other people when they do something embarrassing.

        3. Lance*

          Gnarly blindness to detail, in a casual chat, over a typo/error that so many people make on the regular for one reason or other? That is… a bit much.

        4. AntsOnMyTable*

          I have great attention to detail at my job and I pretty much almost always get then/than wrong. For some reason my brain will not allow me to figure out what the right one half the time. It is interesting to know some people would judge me that badly based and assume I have a “gnarly blindness to detail.”

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      Drinking at work is unacceptable. The mentor could have reported and gotten them fired. Canceling the mentorship is the lesser punishment. Besides, if your judgement is compromised enough to drink at work, is a fellow employee telling you “hey don’t drink at work” really going to make any difference?

      1. EPLawyer*

        the point of a mentor is to kinda point these things out. Drinking at work is usually not an automatic firing offense. Frowned upon, counseled and watched closely SURE.

        This mentor sucked.

          1. Julia*

            Yeah I’m with EPLawyer on this. Drinking during work time is almost always frowned upon, but the degree of unacceptability varies. At some small startups there’s beer in the fridge on Friday afternoons and everyone indulges. And plenty of people decide to slowly sip a glass of wine once in a while while working from home. I’ll bet this has become more acceptable during the pandemic, like lots of other stuff. It’s not something you’d tell your mentor about, but it’s also not something to cancel a mentorship over. At least have a conversation about it.

        1. Veronica*

          I’ve had mentees do things that were clearly bad for the company or against company policy. If it’s just a bad idea (i.e. drinkng at work, not banned in my workplace) then I talk to them. If it’s against company policy, we have a talk and I give them the opportunity to self report (i.e. outside consulting with a competitor).

      2. Frank Doyle*

        But she was talking about it in such a humourous way, the mentor should have checked in to see if she was kidding (which she was!)

      3. Purple Cat*

        is a fellow employee telling you “hey don’t drink at work” really going to make any difference?

        Umm, YES, because especially in this case, the employee WASN’T drinking at work. It was just a poor joke. Not sure how you expect new employees to learn if you think the best course of action after an infraction is just to drop them.

      4. bamcheeks*

        Even where *drinking* at work work is a firing offence, *joking* about drinking at work shouldn’t be.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Yep. Unless there was a way to confirm it that OP was pouring actual Bailey’s in their actual coffee while working, there was no proven drinking at work to be fired for. Otherwise we could all go around getting people we don’t like fired for alleged drinking at work.

      5. Ellis Bell*

        I don’t think anyone is saying it’s a harsh punishment, more that it’s sub par mentoring. The whole point of mentoring is to assume you’re going to be listened to, and to … mentor. I also think it was fairly obviously a joke. Towards the end of term when fellow teachers are swaying with tiredness, we all joke that there is rum in our water bottles. There isn’t. It’s a joke.

      6. Colette*

        I’ve worked at a company that had a beer cart they brought around occasionally, and at multiple places that had occasional social events that involved alcohol for those who wanted it. Drinking at work is not always unacceptable.

        The mentor should have had the conversation – and the OP also should have explained to salvage that relationship.

        1. kiki*

          Yeah, I’ve definitely worked at places where it was considered normal in certain contexts to work while sipping on on an alcoholic beverage. On Friday afternoons in summer, it would be considered really normal to finish up work with an aperol spritz in hand. A team who had to cover something after-hours might celebrate finishing by cracking a beer at the end of the call. I’ve also worked places where it was considered 100% verboten to ever drink on the clock– even joking about booze would get some side-eye.

          The rules around drinking at work aren’t necessarily as hard and fast across the board as one might think.

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            At one job I was the keeper of the team liquor cabinet. Yes, afternoons, during what was essentially dull, rote work (think llama fur carding), some of us would grab a glass. I actually didn’t drink as much as the others, which was why I was the keeper of the liquor cabinet. It was not officially sanctioned, but it wasn’t banned, and company events regularly served beer and wine.

            At another job in academia the events/parties regularly served punchbowl mixed drinks, beer and wine. It was understood that while you might partake, overindulging and making an ass of yourself was a seriously career limiting move.

            Not everyone lives and works in dry counties or places that frown on social drinking at work.

        2. londonedit*

          ‘Drinking at work is unacceptable’ – ha ha, someone’s clearly never worked in publishing! It’s summer party season in my industry and everyone’s having a lovely time, having not been able to enjoy events like these for the last couple of years. There’s a wine fridge where I work – it’s not for generally drinking on the job but it’s for company events and book launches and so on. If it’s someone’s birthday or a leaving do then we’ll always have a couple of drinks in the office before we head to the pub.

          Also, drinking about putting Bailey’s in your coffee is so tame I can’t believe people are even commenting on it. My colleagues and I frequently joke about whether it’s an acceptable time for a G&T yet.

          1. Media Monkey*

            ha – or advertising. but i think the UK is very different from the US in that regard – for one thing, being based in london, very few people are going to be driving!

            We often have drinks on friday lunchtime and always at 4pm on a friday!

            1. Anon for this*

              Close friend, who started out in the same team as me, same job title, one level under me, was able to move their career into high gear and is now an executive of a (Company).

              Apparently, every exec at (Company) has a liquor cabinet in their office, that they partake of with their exec friends when working long hours.

              At an old job, there was a middle manager who kept an honest to god BAR in the trunk of his SUV. It was a large box like a tackle box, that opened to reveal multiple kinds of liquor, mixers, cherries, little plastic glasses etc. Everyone knew. Most of us had partaken at least once. Apparently was a regular thing whenever a group went out to lunch.

              I agree that, if Jane Worker Bee shows up at her desk with a bottle of wine, opens it, and pours herself a glass, she’ll be out the door in a second. Actually, even that varies by company. I’ve been to job interviews (pre-Covid) at tech companies that had their office fridges well-stocked with beer, white claw, and such.

              Personally, I am not a fan of alcohol while working for myself (it slows my brain down which is the opposite of what I need to do my work), but it is certainly a norm at many workplaces, at least at and above a certain level of management.

              1. pancakes*

                The trunk bar is, I hope, unusual. Those of us who live in big cities like London or NYC are mostly not getting into cars to drive after having work drinks or drink-drinks. I would be really, really not happy if my coworkers were drinking and driving, and would absolutely not be drinking with them.

            2. pancakes*

              Likewise NYC, which used to occasionally be described as “as island off the coast of America.” (It really isn’t at this point, but that’s another matter). We had Friday drinks in the office with heavy appetizers 1x/month at the last law firm I worked in-office in. They hired bartenders (and caterers), and there was a choice of cocktails, wine, beer. In a previous industry, film and video post-production, one place I worked had a wet bar in the back. Etc. Others often had parties. People who think drinking at work is firmly unacceptable absolutely everywhere, at all times, are speaking from a lack of experience.

              1. Princesss Sparklepony*

                In NYC, in the music business back when they made money. The offices had mini fridges and they didn’t just have soda in them. The drinking was usually at the end of the day but some execs did the drinks at lunch thing – lots of schmoozing with artists. Most people lived in the city so driving wasn’t a problem for those that didn’t we had accounts at black car services and getting one to get home wasn’t a problem.

                1. pancakes*

                  Yes. Similar, I had a friend whose boyfriend worked at MTV, and we might go there and have a beer or two in the office.

      7. kiki*

        Besides, if your judgement is compromised enough to drink at work, is a fellow employee telling you “hey don’t drink at work” really going to make any difference?

        It depends on the situation, but in the case of a new employee there’s an increased likeliness of the drinker working off of a previous employer’s norms or (in the case of somebody new to the workforce entirely) operating off of something they saw on TV. Alison’s published enough letters and mortifying work stories for me to trust that just about any behavior at work is just as likely ignorance, misunderstanding, or panic as it is intentional malfeasance.

      8. Michelle Smith*

        Completely disagree with everything you said, respectfully. I think if a mentor realized that a colleague might be struggling with alcohol consumption, the first thing they should have done is check in with the person to make sure they were okay. Most large companies, nonprofits, government orgs, etc. have resources for employees who are struggling with alcohol or other substance use. Making them aware of those resources would be a great step. When the colleague explained they were making a joke and definitely do not drink on the job, the conversation would still include the resources (people with addictions unsurprisingly lie to save face sometimes) but pivot to mostly cover professional chat in the workplace and restricting jokes and casual messages to private devices. And then, if it were me, I’d be watching them to see if there were any signs that they were struggling with stress management, smelling like alcohol while in the office, etc. and follow up with them (and potentially HR, depending on the circumstances) to support them. Cancelling mentorship as a punishment is highly counterproductive IMO, as is firing someone for making that joke without further investigation. We shouldn’t be punishing people who we suspect of having alcoholism or any other condition and we shouldn’t jump to thinking young people who say stupid things need to be fired or punished. We should be supporting them to be the best professionals they can be, especially when we have the opportunity to intervene BEFORE fireable offenses occur.

        1. Julia*

          What a lovely and mature response to the situation. I will borrow this for if I ever run into this circumstance.

        2. Environmental Compliance*

          ^ the response I was looking for. Hard agree, here. Canceling mentorship is an incredibly inappropriate response!! At best, you’re walking away from someone who’s just really not aware of the line for appropriate jokes. At worst, you’re walking away – with no resources – for someone who needs help before they hurt/kill someone. This is the exact time as a mentor you should be investigating a little further, not running away into the night.

      9. H3llifIknow*

        I don’t drink at work. But I JOKE about drinking at work ALL the time. “Ok, everytime Travis says X, I’m taking a shot; who’s in?” Or “…and THIS is why I day drink” etc… The LW expressly stated they weren’t ACTUALLY drinking Bailey’s. Lighten up.

        1. pancakes*

          This doesn’t seem all that light to me if it’s happening “ALL the time.” A lot of people have had alcoholics in their life. Those of us who’ve worked in places where the occasional drink at work is fine or even encouraged aren’t necessarily going to think frequent workplace jokes about drinking games or alcohol dependency are funny. Not everyone who drinks alcohol drinks like a frat boy or an alcoholic. The underlying idea that the only options are abstinence or wretched excess is also one that doesn’t tend to encourage people to feel they can behave responsibly, it seems, or to be accountable when they don’t.

      10. Lydia*

        This is a strangely uptight response. And a mentor isn’t just a fellow employee. It’s a person who has been paired with you to let you know when you’re doing things well and especially when you’re not.

      11. Despachito*

        But she didn’t actually drink at work, she was just joking about that, and I do not find this particular joke awfully bad. It is rather “read the room” situation – I can imagine making it with a person who positively knows I am not an alcoholic, but rather not with someone who I am not very familiar with and who might think that I actually indulge in booze. And OP 1 thought she was doing the former but did the latter by mistake.

        With the mind of a Monday morning footballer, the best thing for the OP would have been to write back to the mentor saying “oh, sorry, I accidentally sent you a mail intended for Fergus. Of course I do NOT drink on the job! It was just a joke, and I would be mortified if you thought I do!”

        I am side-eyeing the mentor here – why did she not clarify with the OP? (“Do you really mean it that you are drinking alcohol while on the clock, or are you just joking?”) It is not so rare for people to joke about getting drunk without actually doing so, so the mentor could have been aware of this option. And – I assume this is what mentors are for – should have done something in either case – if OP was indeed drinking, to discipline her/tell her this is not acceptable, and if she was just joking, perhaps tell her to avoid it next time to prevent confusion.

        (The Mischievous Me would tell her that that it is a bad idea to get drunk on Baileys while there are many kinds of alcohol less likely to cause you a terrible hangover, but that would also be a “read the room” situation and I would have to be pretty sure she wasn’t serious)

  3. PippiMom*

    “The titty-slapped toddler” is going to have me chuckling all day. For many toddlers, my youngest included, this would have been heavenly.

    1. Hills to Die on*

      OMG I am hunched over cackling in my cube with my hand over my mouth. Hysterical!!

      1. SkyePilot*

        as someone who is rather well endowed, I have been known to give some shorter friends the “breast hug ever”

    2. quill*

      It is soooo much better than the time I worked at ren faire over the summer and ended up with a frog in my cleavage.

        1. quill*

          So I’m like 15ish? Had to get a permit to work and all that, first job with reportable income. Because I am, at 15, small, I get to wear some less restrictive loaner outfits when I work the games, so I become the go-to girl for running errands, such as “quill, pop up to the joust game and ask if they know where the back alley keys are” and “quill, could you get the arrows out of the targets please?”

          Archery is located straddling a small, boggy creek. Shooting stalls on one bank, hay bale targets on the other. I have not yet discovered that I came with amazing collapsing ankles pre-installed on my person. The plank bridge from archery stalls to targets is Very Narrow.

          I was on my way across the bridge, my ankle decided to stop being part of my body briefly, and I end up butt-down in the stream staring up at all the other girls working archery, who have apparently seen me trying to be Wile E. Coyote’s stunt double and are briefly more concerned that I’ll need medical assistance than that the patrons are complaining that we’re out of arrows.

          “You Okay, Quill?” one of the senior workers asked.

          “I think so,” I said, not getting up. The bank is very steep, very muddy, and very covered in damp, partially decaying straw. I was looking for a place to put my hands when I spotted a frog in front of me, pretending to be a lump of dirt. “Oh look, I found a frog.”

          I picked the frog up to get it out of the way, stood up, placed one foot on the bank… and immediately slid back down into the stream, clutching my hand to my chest on the way. It was not a gentle slide. It was a very tiny landslide.

          Anyway that’s how I had to be pulled out of the stream, sit down under the ticket counter to remove a very unhappy frog from the boob area of my chemise, and get sent to the back to borrow a completely different set of clothes.

          1. Kate*

            Your boobfrog story really delight this internet stranger on the way to bed at the end of a long day, so thanks.

    3. Free Meerkats*

      Back when I was a 15-year old boy in high school (1971), I was one of the yearbook and newspaper photographers, so I was the “obvious” choice to assist the photographers for School Picture Day. Note, 4X5 view cameras have nothing in common with a Yashica D.

      The photographer I was assisting was a woman, I’d guess in her mid 20s, possessing huge tracts of land, and wearing a cowl neck blouse, I distinctly remember it was green. She bent over to do something and one of the girls popped out. Being who I was, my eyes also popped out. She didn’t even look up, but tucked it back in and went on with what she was doing; I’m sure she doesn’t even remember but it’s tattooed on my brain forever.

    4. Brenda Schardine*

      I laughed so hard and that entire story it probably sounded like I was dying and my cats came running over meowing loudly to comfort me. Or eat my face, who knows! I’m glad I waited til after work to read these or I might have had my own mortification tale to tell!

    5. SeluciaMD*

      This may be my favorite of the mortification stories so far – and it was so brilliantly told! Well done! It made me downright cackle with laughter. KUDOS.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Yah, that one was hilarious and I admire the dedication involved in creating something like that. Too bad it was on work time and not personal time, though. Person who sent that one in: is there a photo because I really want to see it!

    2. GammaGirl1908*

      I guffawed at “fashioning little druids out of toilet paper tubes.”

      I can just picture the moment when LW, who had been all alone in the building for WEEKS, got the funny feeling that someone was watching, and turned around, toilet paper tube in hand…

      1. catsoverpeople*

        Or worse yet, boss walks into the bathroom right when LW was digging through the trash cans for more empty toilet paper tubes, muttering “…need more druids!!” That’s how it would have happened to me, anyway.

    3. Pippa K*

      “My humorless boss walked in just as I was fashioning little druids out of toilet paper tubes.”

      Is the best sentence I will read today. Thank you, OP.

    4. Tortoiseshell*

      Laptop-henge is so important to me. Even better if the student was in archaeology.

    5. tamarack and fireweed*

      Nah, that one is seriously messed up – the druids were 1000 years after Stonehenge was built. Someone needs to re-educate the LW!

      1. MoveAlongNothingToSeeHere*

        *Adjusts pedantic glasses* Actually, the druids may not have built it, but they certainly used Stonehenge as a place of worship. So, toilet paper roll druids would have been anthropologically correct in laptop-henge.

    6. Certaintroublemaker*

      Our student computer lab personnel would get refresh machines for the labs in those giant, cowhide-patterned Gateway boxes (yes, back in the day). Once they were done setting up the computers, they would construct forts, sculptures, whatever struck their fancy with the boxes, and take pictures, before the boxes would go off to recycling.

    7. Elenna*

      Frankly if there was nothing to do, building a model of Stonehenge sounds like a perfectly reasonable activity to me (and it’s something that can be fairly easily dropped if a call does come in).
      Maybe use something other than new faculty laptops though. :D

    8. Bruneschelli*

      I was studying mechanical engineering, not architecture. I started with a trilith and just… kept going. No laptops were harmed as this was in the early days of portable computing when they were considerably more structurally sound. Sadly, this was before cellphones with cameras were everywhere, so there’s no documentation. Darn pity.

      Gamagirl- You’re pretty close to what happened. She came in, cleared her throat, sighed, and left without another word. I was shocked that I wasn’t sacked on the spot, but apparently freelance sarsen construction was less egregious than the standard overnight crew shenanigans of smuggling in adult beverages and napping. The bar was low.

    1. Office Sweater Lady*

      #16 is in good company: If anyone watches Clarkson’s Farm, a very similar thing happened to one of his young, new employees who tried to back a vehicle into the barn and messed up the angle a wee bit. Clarkson took it with very good humor (though with mild ribbing).

    2. The OG Sleepless*

      I’ve spent a lot of time on farms. There’s often just inches between a job well done and total destruction. I have no doubt the supervisor had seen similar things before.

      1. Fit Farmer*

        And sounds like he’d been around long enough to know the first thing a new worker does is break something by accident. It’s to be expected, the only thing to do is laugh at the situation! (This may apply to more than farms…)

  4. Princess Deviant*

    Absolutely scream-laughing at titty-slapped toddler!
    These are so brilliant.

    1. BubbleTea*

      My toddler’s mouth would open reflexively if a boob came near his head. Or anything even approximately boob-shaped. Or anything that might believably have been near a boob at some point.

      “Is this milk? Could be! Worth a shot!”

      1. AlpacasNotLlamas*

        I made it this far down before I laughed aloud. I have a 4 month old daughter at home I’m breastfeeding lol

  5. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

    #4 made me laugh out loud. #15 had me baffled over cutting the fabric out and putting duct tape on it. Very curious as to whether an upholstery stain removal/cleaning product was tried before getting out the duct tape.

    1. New Jack Karyn*

      I’m guessing that a lot of blood on a lime-green expensive fabric isn’t gonna come out. However, I think after a while, she could have said that she spilled something on it, and that’s why there’s a non-matching cushion on it?

    2. fullaboti*

      I don’t think I would do this exact thing, but I could see younger me being caught in an embarrassment/anxiety spiral and just doing the first thing that popped into my head. Then realizing afterward that my solution was worse than the actual problem.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      At NonProfitJob, a pregnant coworker was sitting in our boss’s visitor chair when her water broke. They just threw the chair out.

      Blood would have contaminated the chair padding. That’s why detectives and hazmat cleaners rip up floors at crime scenes. It goes all the way down into the subfloor.

    4. Teach*

      I came to say: great work, 10/10 no notes to #15. I would never bring this to a manager, ESPECIALLY a male manager! Destroy the evidence, hide the damage, replace when possible. Perfect.

      1. pandop*

        When one of our buildings was refurbished, I knew no woman had been involved in the choosing of pale grey office chairs

  6. It's All Elementary*

    #4 I learned the definition of a new word today. I could have made the same mistake.

  7. Jessica Ganschen*

    #4, I once told a presenter for a class I was taking that he was “bombastic”, thinking it meant something like enthusiastic.

    1. BlackLodge*

      I was on the receiving end of one of these misspoken comments once. I was leaving a position and my boss said they’ll be crying crocodile tears because they haven’t had someone as good as me in a long time. I immediately responded, “that’s not nice!” and had to tell him that expression didn’t mean what he thought it meant.

    2. Kiwi*

      Oh my god I didn’t know it *didn’t* mean enthusiastic. I have now looked it up, you’ve saved me!

    3. Autumnheart*

      In an internet community I frequent a lot, I keep seeing the same person use “They’re a dime a dozen!” when they really mean something like “They’re one in a million!”

  8. Llama face!*

    I was wheeze-cry-laughing at #11 and #12. These mortification week posts are the best!

  9. Snorlax*

    THE REN FAIR ONE. I used to work at our local faire, and there but for the grace of god….

    1. EPLawyer*

      I was dying. I know the dresses. that can so easily happen. I can just imagine the parents’ face. Did, you uh, just slap my kid with your titty? DYING.

      1. quill*

        I’m so fervently glad that I had so little in the way of frontal ammunition when I worked at ren faire.

    2. Toddlers be warned*

      My friend returned from Las Vegas with the statement ‘I clothes lined a baby.’ I’m standing there thinking is this a new attraction? She clothes lined a toddler on an airplane, basically she was still hung over and was trying to help the mom with a runaway toddler but couldn’t judge speed/distance when she stuck her arm out and proceeded to clothes line her, not hard just hard enough to stop her. The kid just sat down in the aisle and looked a bit daze. The mom walked up and said thanks and carried on. After that my friend laughed hysterically because she ‘clothes lined a baby’.
      I cannot wait to share with her how it could have been worse or better depending on how you look at it.

      1. kittycontractor*

        I ran (not with a car, just myself) a toddler trying to get away from a bird who was trying to kill me.

  10. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

    These are all hilarious but I’m crying over EDUCATION MIKE IS DEAD.

    1. Antilles*

      I loved that one too because it’s just so perfectly innocuous.
      You can absolutely see how the person writing it didn’t think twice about it – the microphone for education is broken, write it down so everybody is aware of it, easy peasy. But then you can absolutely see how the person reading it immediately reads “Education Mike” and thinks of the person.

    2. Some Cajun Queen*

      Same, this is the one that sent me over the edge. The idea of just announcing someone’s DEATH on a community whiteboard in that way! I’m crying.

    3. Monkey, Bear and Mouse*

      I have just laughed at this more than I’ve laughed in a year! And it’s the middle of the night here so I had to laugh in complete silence so as not to wake up my sister! Oh my stomach hurts

  11. Slow Gin Lizz*

    Poor Education Mike. Guess he wasn’t scheduled to volunteer that day or else he’d have been in for a big surprise when he walked into the room.

    1. Education Mike’s Co-worker*

      If I remember correctly our teen volunteers started later in the day since they didn’t have some of the set-up activities that the full employees did. So by the time he got there the board was already changed.

  12. Embarrassed MAcc Grad*

    Wrong Word, Grad School Edition:
    In an auditing class for my MAcc, we wrote a paper on Apple Inc, including some analysis of their competitors. All 4 of us in my group missed the misspelling of their competitor, Asus…. As “Anus”. We missed no points but prof DID notice!

    1. ENFP in Texas*

      The Return of the Wrong Word

      When you are writing a paper for your Public Health course, don’t rely solely on Spellcheck. Always re-read to make sure you didn’t accidentally leave out the L.

      1. metadata minion*

        Hot tip that I’m pretty sure I originally got here — you can usually remove words from your computer/word processor’s dictionary. Unless you work in sexual health or something, remove “pubic” and it will flag as a typo.

        1. DyneinWalking*

          Even in the latter case – if it’s crucial that you check every single instance of the word for a possible misspelling as another word, you should remove both words from the dictionary. That way, every instance of both words will be flagged for you, and you can devote one round of proofreading to just checking that all those instances have the correct spelling.

      2. You can call me flower, if you want to*

        Haha I think about this all the time since I work in public relations. I double check the spelling constantly.

      3. LizB*

        My wonderful roommate in college was an environmental studies major and is severely dyslexic. Thankfully she always had a real human do a final editing pass on big assignments, because otherwise she might have turned in an entire 10-page paper on the Endangered Spices Act.

        1. tamarack and fireweed*

          Which is what we call a Cupertino. Because US spellcheckers didn’t have the spelling of “co-operation” (with a hyphen) and the suggested replacement was “Cupertino” (as in Apple, Inc.’s headquarter), there are still many documents findable online esp. in European Union reports that talk about “international Cupertino” (Google search with “site:eu” … and you shall find. Or see Wikipedia for Cupertino Effect)

      4. Can't think of a funny name*

        I saw public misspelled on CNN…back at the beginning of the pandemic…probably talking about some important information…but that misspelled word lost me, hahaha, ok, easily amuzed :)

          1. Anecdata*

            Or the time NPRs home page announced in massive letters that Navy Seals had just killed Obama in a raid :yikes

    2. Tierrainney*

      not as bad, but I was checking my child’s book report, where she misspelled the main character’s name as Brain instead of Brian all the way through. and it was hand written, so not easily fixed.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I think everyone named Brian has turned in a paper from Brain at some point.

      2. Bexy Bexerson*

        When I graduated high school about a million years ago, my senior class had t-shirts made with all of the graduates’ names printed on the back (if you went to a small town high school back in the day, you know the sort of things I’m taking about…we could fit 100 names in the back of a shirt).

        Someone didn’t proofread thoroughly before approving the order with the t-shirt printing company.

        I graduated with a kid whose first name was Brian. On our shirts, he was listed as “Brain Lastname”.

        Brian Lastname was severely developmentally disabled. Everyone was absolutely horrified.

    3. Bob-White of the Glen*

      In college math I was shortening associative down to it’s first three letters. Prof had to tell me this wasn’t proper.

      Never did it again, at least.

      1. Epsilon Delta Sorority Sister*

        Back in college, it seemed like all the math majors abbreviated “real analysis” as “real anal” (pronounced like the orifice). It took me exactly one time accidentally using that expression outside the college context (and receiving a perplexed and uncomfortable stare) before I permanently removed it from my vocabulary (well, at least in the context of math; it’s still a useful description of my personality).

      2. TyphoidMary*

        in high school, one day our lunch ladies abbreviated “assorted fruit” on the menu board, to the great delight of 200+ teenagers.

        1. Elsajeni*

          Ah yes, I remember the day we had “assorted pies” as the dessert option in my college dorm’s cafeteria.

      3. Reinsurance*

        I’ve worked in accounting in the Insurance industry. For some types of more material insurance contracts, companies may seek reinsurance, where they cede some of the risk (and premium) to another insurer, who assumes some of the risk (aka agrees to cover part of a claimed loss, if incurred) of the original policy, for the fee. The person who came up with quite a lot of the 25-character max account descriptions before my time frequently chose to make an ass out of u and me when naming the assumed accounts. I opted for the more dignified asm(d) when setting up new accounts.

        1. Elenna*

          My previous team (also in insurance) would abbreviate “non-conventional (assets)”, i.e. assets that weren’t stocks or bonds, by removing the “ventional”. I never had the guts to ask if anyone else knew what that meant in terms of AO3 tags.

    4. Environmental Compliance*

      Wrong Word, Chem TA Edition:

      I had many students put in “demonized” water instead of “deionized”. Cracked me up every time.

  13. Ginge*

    #12 & 13. Excellent. Made me laugh so hard my partner hit me a ‘wth’ look!! Attached hair on the face is a ‘killer’

  14. Banana*

    #15 – I had two similar accidents at work. The first one I sort of fixed by coming in at night for several nights and using various stain removers. I didn’t get it all out but it faded to the point where it looked consistent with the rest of the crappy, stained furniture. The second one was a much nicer chair and impossible to hide and our gracious building manager quietly fixed it for me without a word to my (male) boss. She had a spare chair and put my stained one in a storage room until the seat could be replaced (there was no removing that stain completely and a stained chair would not do.) The seats are usually replaceable and much cheaper than the whole chair.

  15. DisneyChannelThis*

    #10 I have so many other questions. Why didn’t he stand in the back of the room? Why weren’t there enough chairs in the audience?

    1. Polly Hedron*

      I am guessing
      • he didn’t know that was a panelist chair until the program began
      • the presentation was unexpectedly popular

      1. SPQRBob*

        I had an instant and visceral physical reaction to #13. My mouth hung open in shock as I was overcome by embarrassed horror in sympathy for that poor woman. I can only imagine the terminal mortification that she felt as she had to sit there for the next 30 minutes and pretend she didn’t desperately desire to commit seppaku on the spot. It probably would have been less painful.

  16. Willow Sunstar*

    #15 Ugh I hate when that happens. I find an excuse to come in early or late and attempt to clean it. If it doesn’t come clean, I find another excuse to do the same the next day and switch chairs. At least with the pandemic, that hasn’t been a worry for over a year. Why offices don’t just get dark colored (or burgundy) chairs is beyond me.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I stopped and thought, was it on sale? Like I got these really expensive brand of chairs because the color is godawful or at least ridiculous for an office so they discounted them 60%.

    2. Rain's Small Hands*

      Because men make the decisions and few of them have ever had a leak. (Lime green? Of all the colors available – lime green?)

      1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        Long ago I worked for an office furniture manufacturer (not the one in #15, but a direct competitor) and many times the color was chosen to match company branding or lime green is fun! Modern! And yes, non-menstruating don’t understand light colors are a nonstarter for things that cannot easily be washed/bleached.

      2. Zweisatz*

        Did give me the idea though to exchange any stained chair with the one of the chair pattern decision maker’s chair.

      3. pancakes*

        Not a man, not ever had a bad leak, and it wouldn’t have occurred to me to only ever buy dark chairs before reading this. This isn’t intrinsically or essentially a heavily gendered thing. I don’t buy exclusively dark furniture for my own home. I’m sitting on a white chair with a small blue pattern at the moment, which I chose for myself, along with its matching ottoman. There are a lot of not-dark chairs out and about in the world. Maybe they’re not ideal for office furniture, that’s a fair point, but it doesn’t need to be a women vs. men conflict.

        1. lunchtime caller*

          Right, I’m actually surprised that so many people are out there leaking on office chairs because as someone with a fairly heavy flow some days, it has never even occurred to me.

    3. Fae Kamen*

      I feel like the material is more important than the color. Even a black fabric can show a stain. Something that’s not absorbent and easily wipeable, maybe like that fake leather on many chairs, may be best for this specific issue IMO.

  17. Sabina*

    One of my duties as a court clerk (many years ago) was to type and post calendars of the day ‘s docket outside each courtroom. So the cases were listed by case number and names, i.e. U.S. vs Jones, Wilson vs. Smith, etc. One day I somehow made “Whitehead” appear as “Shithead “, U.S. vs Shithead. Fortunately another clerk saw them and took them all down before most people arrived.

  18. TC*

    I can’t even make it to the end of the list because I am absolutely howling laughing at “EDUCATION MIKE IS DEAD!” and the “titty-slapped toddler”…!

  19. Nea*

    #15, know that you are my hero. That was some of the best problem-solving on the fly I’ve ever seen.

  20. East of Nowhere South of Lost*

    A young 20-something me to my boss who came in wearing all black, “Who died?”.

    Turns out my boss was just really into Johnny Cash.

    1. Fae Kamen*

      I used to wear a lot of black and people would say stuff like that to me all the time. I feel like it’s just a corny dad joke and not especially mortifying! Especially because so many people don’t actually wear all black to funerals or while mourning.

    2. Ins mom*

      Who died? Early 70’s, small college mail room , I see two friends, both guys that I’d dated in the recent past, deep in serious discussion, so I’m trying to be flippant, “who died?” Their jaws dropped and I could tell they had to decide in a split second which of them had to tell me just exactly which of our mutual friends had in fact been killed the night before

  21. Aerin*

    I have been there, #7. One morning on my break I went to watch a video set to the opening number of Hamilton, thinking my headphones were properly plugged in. They were not. The entire floor was treated to the show’s very subtle instrumental opening. (BAH! BADADA BAH BAH BAH!) Thankfully, I managed to hit pause before the first line of the song, which I will not transcribe here to avoid getting eaten by a filter.

    This is to say nothing of the second time I listened to the show all the way through, which was at work on a weekend shift. Just very glad no one walked by near the end, so I did not have to explain why I was sobbing at my desk.

    1. ferrina*

      Yep, I’ve done this a few times and quickly learned where the mute button on my computer was. The next hazard was that I’d forget I was muted and that I hadn’t stopped the music….I’d unmute for a virtual meeting and the music would be back for the other person to hear….

    2. Nea*

      I know someone whose boss walked in right on the line “Southern m-f- Democratic-Republicans!”

    3. Pieforbreakfast*

      I had a retail job where we could play our choice of CDs during open hours. There was a popular-with-staff movie soundtrack CD that had the MC5s on it. I remember multiple sprints across the floor to mute the “kick out the jams mother f’er!” introduction when customers were in the store.

    4. MDWAP mishap*

      One time on a train I was sitting across from a family with two young children while I was listening (in my PLUGGED IN headphones) to the podcast My Dad Wrote a Porno. Out of nowhere the podcast just stopped playing through my headphones and came out the phone’s speaker. Technologically I’m not even sure how this happened, but of course it did. Out comes some line about a made-up sex position and I was mortified. I couldn’t look at the family the rest of the trip, and my only solace was that the young kids likely had no idea what was being said.

      1. Pool Lounger*

        I live in fear of this happening during My Dad Wrote a Porno or Last Podcast On the Left

      2. Dr Crusher*

        I was listening to the Savage Lovecast, Dan Savage’s sex advice podcast, on my phone when my handyman called, and somehow the podcast continued playing for a bit even though I was also on the call. I’m not sure how much he heard, but it was mortifying (and I kind of had a tiny crush on him and had previously said a few awkward things like you do when you have a crush). God.

    5. Esmeralda*

      I thought everyone had left for the day.

      My boss heard music and walked over, then watched in amusement as I sang along, very very loudly, to Anderson Paak, Come Down, right at : “cool beans, cool beans, that’s a whole lot of reefer”

      Fortunately I turned and saw him before I got to the next verse.

    6. Cyberspace Hamster*

      Not exactly the same but when I was younger I had discovered novelty ringtones and that you could set them for specific people. I had my parents set on one of an enthusiastic grandmotherly voice saying “It’s your mother!!! It’s mummy on the phone, pick it up!! You can’t hide from meee!”

      They never called during work hours so I didn’t think much of it until one day when I came back from the bathroom (I had left my phone on my desk) and my colleague, absolutely deadpan says to me “your mum tried to call you”. I was trying to figure out how he knew without having actually looked at my phone which would have been weird, when it hit me. He must have seen the realisation hit my face because he and a couple of others nearby just cracked up. This was in an open plan office. Everyone would have heard it going the whole time I was away from my desk. Everyone.

  22. Dr. Rebecca*

    Really have to thank “titty slapped toddler” for making my contribution (#2) so much more benign in comparison.

    1. Petty Betty*

      You’re welcome! I have so many embarrassing tales both in and out of costume that I am pretty much immune to mortification.

    2. Fae Kamen*

      I’m always struck by how many mortification stories are about boob mishaps. Having boobs is hard! Periods too!

  23. Ellis Bell*

    For OP2, take heart that this is apparently a common problem. When friends of ours moved from the north to London, they were completely caught out by the double cheek kiss (in the north, it’s just a single cheek kiss). Apparently this has resulted in many accidental lip landings or just plain old cracked heads. They now have to referee when introducing northern friends to southern ones!

    1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      I had an acquaintance from Brazil that would quickly indicate “One kiss on the cheek” before leaning in. Cheek kissing is not a common thing in the U.S. at all so I was glad for the heads up even though I knew (sort of) the custom.

      1. nonegiven*

        Geez, how about no kissing, no handshakes, keep your germs to yourself? Fully vaxed people are still dying from the plague.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          I don’t know about the Brazil example but mine was pre pandemic. No cheek kisses any more.

        2. short'n'stout (she/her)*

          Yeah, even knowing when the incident occurred, after two years of conditioning the idea of being touched by anyone who is not an intimate partner or a healthcare professional makes me cringe.

        3. MM*

          People had lives and cultural practices before the pandemic and sometimes, even now, they describe them.

    2. Foila*

      Ha, a podcaster I listen to recently told the story of visiting Hungary as a teen, and getting his first kiss on the mouth from the (male) landlord because he wasn’t ready for the left-right-left cheek kiss and he went the wrong way.

    3. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      Even worse, in some places it changes based on the relationship. So i don’t just need to know when it’s a kiss or if it’s one or two, I also have to know if we’re close enough for it to be 3! Not fair. I’d rather not cheek kiss anyone, ugh.

      1. Ariaflame*

        I think there’s a duolingo French podcast recently about the difficulties with the cheek kissing even in different francophone areas

        1. Jessica Ganschen*

          There’s also a comedy special that I love called “Franglais” by Paul Taylor, and he’s got a whole bit at the beginning about la bise.

    4. Farmers bar your doors*

      I once encountered an old colleague by surprise, while visiting the city where he’d moved to. We were on the sidewalk by a busy street. He went in for a cheek kiss, but as that was entirely outside my own cultural greeting practices, I thought he was leaning in because couldn’t hear me, so I dodged the kiss and shouted in his ear instead.

  24. mairona*

    “I also printed out two dozen signs and hung them on the front and back of every door in that bathroom so no one would have a repeat incident.”

    OP #9 is the hero we all need – unexpectedly faulty toilet stall locks are the worst!

  25. Bob-White of the Glen*

    #12 – yep tentacles has definitely tripped me up – in front of a (fortunately very cool) student employee no less. And I will no longer attempt to say the work organism either.

      1. Can't think of a funny name*

        I laughed way too hard at your comment and my cat growled at me!

    1. quill*

      So when I was in high school a friend was learning sign language, and part of her assignment was to sign a children’s story. She practiced the little red hen for a week.

      … except if you are a little bit off, the pair of signs for female chicken ends up as “orgasm chicken.” Nobody who she had practiced in front of had caught it because it was hardly part of the class’ vocabulary. But the class of Deaf teens she was signing to at the presentation?


      1. TyphoidMary*

        Reading “Good Night, Moon” to a group of toddlers in Spanish, the line “Good night, comb” will come out “Good night, penis,” if you’re not fastidious with your diphthongs. Ask me how I know, lol (the looks on the moms’ faces before they burst out laughing!)

    2. Aerin*

      The Fantasmic river show at Disneyland has a clip of the line “Ursula will take matters into her own tentacles” from The Little Mermaid. It is very definitely not the same recording as the movie (different cadence and emphasis) and the last word… sounds different. It was always a delight to watch the reaction of unprepared friends when they heard it for the first time.

  26. WFH with Cat*

    Oh, dear god, I’m only at #11 (the Ren Fair) and laughing so hard I can no longer see to read … Must. Take. Break.

  27. metadata minion*

    Wow, #7 is way worse than my experience! A year or two back I had some environmental background noise on and wondered why my headphones were playing so weirdly low. So I kept turning the volume up. And up. And then realized that my headphones were not actually plugged in and I was serenading the entire office with soothing jungle rain noises which I could barely hear because I was wearing headphones.

    1. Manders*

      Same exact thing for me, but I was listening to Eminem (which… was not what anyone was expecting).

    2. Blarg*

      I did this. At the dentist. With nitrous going. I’d unplugged my headphones from the phone. And kept turning up the volume cause over whatever monstrous tool they were using was so loud. I vaguely understood something was wrong. I guess the hygienist plugged it back in. I asked if it had happened afterwards and they just shrugged.

    3. Elenna*

      This kind of thing is why I don’t appreciate Apple removing the headphone jack. I just do not have that much trust in Bluetooth.

      1. catsoverpeople*

        This. Thank you. I know the headphone jack disappeared like three iPhones ago, but it’s nice to know I’m not the only one who is still bitter about it.

  28. Pool Lounger*

    I love the implication with #2, that Americans don’t do cheek kisses with people they don’t know, but do kiss them on the mouth!

    1. Dr. Rebecca*

      Oh, no, not at all–I thought she was going in for a hug, she went for a cheek kiss, and I figured out what was going on midway through moving toward her, so my mouth *kissed* and my body *hugged* so I got her mouth instead of her cheek.

  29. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    I remembered this while reading all the wrong word entries.
    In the early 2000s a manager came over to me and a coworker with a question about links and websites. Basically, he (45M) asked us (28-32F) why you can’t just change the words in a link and have it go to the page.
    I stated that the link or text appearing in blue and is underlined is simply a sign, and the the sign may be wrong.
    And since , I pride myself on my ability to clearly explain things came up with this:
    I said, “the words don’t matter. It’s the address behind them. Like it could show our company name but direct you to”
    He politely said, OK. I get it.
    But I knew I hadn’t explained it clearly enough, so I repeated, “the words show our company name, but the hyperlink can be Playboy. And when you click it you go to It’s not our site. It’s Playboy.”
    He said he got it.
    I was sure he didn’t, so I repeated it.
    He said OK, in that way that means, “please stop talking,” but I heard, “I hate to be a bother, can you say it one more time?”
    Absolutely. I’ll just keep saying “, not our company*,” so. many. times.

    *our highly regulated financial company where women wear skirts and heels and men wear suits and ties and are not allowed facial hair.

  30. nora*

    Wrong word, high school calculus edition:

    “Tangential” is not pronounced “tan-genital.” More than 20 years later and I’m still a little miffed at my friend who waited TWO MONTHS to correct me.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Wow, your friends really let you make a boner that time. A jerk move so beyond the pale…it was, almost, shall we say, tan.
      I’ll see myself out.

    2. Autumnheart*

      I had a boyfriend, with whom I had recently broken up, in an English class (college) and he was giving a presentation in which he repeatedly referred to all the men who were “hung”. I decided that my petty revenge was to NOT tell him that he could have said “they were hanged.”

  31. EngGirl*

    #7 unlocked a memory in me I didn’t realize I’d repressed

    Sometimes in the morning during my commute I listen to music, sometimes I listen to audiobooks. I was listening to an audiobook on the drive in that had some ~steamy~ scenes. No big deal, I always use headphones at my desk and then swap over to music while I’m working anyway.

    Unfortunately my phone was overdue for an upgrade and glitching. Usually it would just freeze or close out apps, but sometimes it would start randomly playing music… or whatever I was last listening to.

    I’m sure you can see where this is headed.

    I was sitting at my desk when out of nowhere my phone comes to life with a man’s voice saying, incredibly gutturally “Fuck yeah baby” I’ve never moved so fast in my life but the damage was done. Thankfully only one or two people noticed and kept they’re laughter to a low series of giggles.

  32. Murphy*

    Not work related to but EDUCATION MIKE related:

    My mother stayed with me to help out after I had major surgery. She was keeping the extended family informed via text. This was a while ago so she had a flip phone and was using the numbers to type. Everything went well and what she intended to say was “Murphy is home”. What T9 Word assumed she wanted to say is “Murphy is gone.” She caught it before she sent it, but she and I had a good laugh over her almost receiving a dozen confused and distraught phone calls because she mistakenly told our entire family that I had died.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      My brother graduated from college in 1989 and finished his masters degree at the same school in 1992. They stopped calling asking for donations from him sometime after 1998, because my dad answered the phone with”
      “No. He is no longer living (pause because the TV flashed to something)…here.”
      other party speaks.
      “Thank you very much.”
      He turns to my mom and me and said, “he said he was very sorry to bother me.”
      Me (through tears of laughter): “because you told him your son was dead!”
      Dad, “Oh. I don’t think so.”

      1. Seashell*

        For a long time, telemarketers and such would occasionally call for my dad, who was actually dead. I was a kid, so I generally shoved the phone at my mom and made her deal with it. I remember one time that I made a teenage babysitter handle it. She did fine with it, but I feel sorry for her in retrospect.

  33. Oops, that's me*

    Uhhhh…am I the only one sent into a worry by #4, wondering when I’ve used it? I definitely *thought* I knew what wizened meant.

    1. Not A Girl Boss*

      I was today years old when I learned that wizened does not mean “wizardish and cool”

  34. Fae Kamen*

    #8 – My high school attempted to do a demonstration on drunk driving. The idea was that a few designated students would hide out “backstage” until a cue in the presentation, then dramatically appear in all black to represent the number of people killed in drunk driving accidents each year.

    Can you see where this is going? That morning, the staff member in charge discreetly pulled the select students aside. And then, I guess in a very misguided attempt to “play along” with the little skit, she told the unsuspecting class that those students had been KILLED by a drunk driver.

    Everybody freaked out. Crying. Gasping. Questioning why god why. The staff member eventually corrected herself when she realized what she had done, but she was never really forgiven by anyone.

    1. Minimal Pear*

      Oh man the way my high school did that same presentation was SO poorly handled and upsetting. I know there were multiple issues but the one I really remember was that they emphasized that one of the girls wasn’t “dead” but rather “paralyzed”. (All fake/acting, of course.) They really went into how horrible this was, and how terrible it must be to be like that and how maybe it would’ve been better if she had just died instead.
      I had recently become physically disabled, and was using a cane part-time. People were having these conversations in front of me. It was a pretty rough day.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        Urk. That’s awful.

        I had the equivalent of a stroke in 1995. Hemiparesis, cane, problems walking and talking, etc. If I had gotten that kind of crap, well, my filter was one of the casualties of the stroke. They would have gotten an earful.

        There is a lot of “better dead than crippled” crap in our society. It even shows up in Star Trek, FFS. When someone then becomes disabled, they have all of that tape running in their head, and it does a number on your identity and self esteem. I was severely depressed for several years after the stroke because of that ingrained ableism of “better dead that crippled”. I felt that my life was over, I had nothing, and that I was a burden to my friends and family. I eventually coped, but mainstream messaging , especially about stroke survivors (old, used up, parasites, life was over, blah, blah), did a big number on my head.

        I am here to tell you that yes, there is life after disability. Really.

        You may not think this applies to you, but it does. We will hopefully all get old, and many of us will have physical issues as we age, or because accidents happen. If it happens to you don’t listen to the bad tape. You are still you.

        1. Minimal Pear*

          Oh yeah even at the time I knew it was B.S.–I lucked into finding a great disability community pretty early on, for one thing. It was less rough because I was internalizing and more because I was getting in fights all day! That and the general “getting slapped in the face with how hostile and ableist society is” feeling. Luckily it’s been a long, long time since that drunk driving education day–or, ugh, it might have been a week–and I barely think about it anymore! Hence not really remembering what other issues there were with the event, haha. :)

        2. Jessica*

          Curmudgeon, your post brought the tears to my eyes. Writing about a situation that would rightfully have anyone boiling with rage, you focused on trying to extend help and hope to other people. thank you for your kindness.

        3. Former_Employee*

          I’m sorry that happened to you, both the event itself and the “better dead than crippled” chatter.

          Those who are able bodied are one accident or illness away from becoming disabled.

    2. BubbleTea*

      Mine had to cancel the planned road safety and drink driving presentation because three of the students had been killed by a drunk driver the week before.

      Personally I felt that it was absolutely the right time to discuss safety and driving, but they felt it was inappropriate.

  35. TotesMaGoats*

    I’ll raise you the octopus misspeak and share that I was teaching and was trying to talk about what to do if you end up on a PIP. After saying it correctly a couple times, I said “after you end up on a PIMP”. I lost full control at that point and just laughed until I cried. At least my students, all adults, also laughed.

    1. Anonymath*

      Ah, that brings up an old repressed teaching memory.

      It was the first day of stats class. For some reason that year, the college started a week before the local school district. So many students were having child care issues, and one of my students asked permission to bring her 10 year old son to class, that he’d be quiet and wear headphones while watching videos. I had no problem with that and completely forgot he was there.

      That is, until I was explaining to my students why we don’t use commas when writing out our numbers in stats class and accidentally said “we don’t use condoms in stats class” instead. I almost melted through the floor but luckily he was still wearing those headphones and paying no attention to the very red professor at the front of the room.

  36. Missouri Girl in LA*

    Not my story, but a co-worker’s. At the time, I worked for a fairly large transit property. He was doing a presentation to the Board of Directors (read: public meeting) and cue slide “Public…..” without the ‘L’. At the time, he didn’t realize he had omitted the “L” while the rest of us were trying really hard not to snicker. I don’t recall the Board reacting in any way but we all got the reminder about the word “Public”. It’s been a good 20 years and I use that as a lesson to my employees. Proofread and then put a second set of eyes on it. Don’t know how it got past everybody.

  37. NoiShin*

    #11 (ren fair)…that was so amazingly written. The imagery was just *chef’s kiss*.

  38. flora*

    At my first job and today I think I wasted a couple hours of someone’s time. In the spirit of mortification week, can I request some stories from other commenters about times they wasted other people’s time or had their time wasted and didn’t mind so I stop feeling so embarrassed?

  39. B*itch in the corner of the poster*

    Word moment here: in high school (catholic school) I had to read out loud from the bible in class, and I read how Jesus healed all the leapers….

    20 years later and it still comes up. (for anyone who doesn’t know the story, he healed the lepers, not leapers)

    1. Becky*

      I had a friend who was reading aloud from the Bible and came upon “ewes” but did not know that “ewes” is pronounced like “yous” and so said “ew-ies”

    2. DrRat*

      omg, now I have the old Second City Television Ben Hur sketch in my head where the mother and sister have become leopards instead of lepers

      1. Anecdata*

        In the early 2000s, Word’s spell checker reliably corrected “Philippians” to “Phillipines”. Paul traveled, but not that much!

    3. Aerin*

      In middle school youth group I read a passage describing someone hemorrhaging and then paraphrased as “So, he had hemorrhoids” and all the older teen group leaders doubled over laughing.

    4. HannahS*

      When I was in high school I was invited to read a saxophonist’s bio in music class, and I read out that he got his start giggling on street corners.

      Gigging. He was playing the saxophone for money, not doubled up cackling to himself on street corners.

    1. pierrotlunaire0*

      I thought that titty slapped toddler was the winner, and then I hit #13. My. Dear. God. Shoot me now.

  40. Coin_Operated*

    Oh my gosh I had a similar situation to the ganster rap, only for me it was raunchy stand up comedy. I was doing work and my bluetooth glitched and switched off right in the middle of Ally Wong’s joke where she said loudly “EVERYBODY HAS HPV!” right in front of a co-worker.

  41. tinyhipsterboy*

    Oh my god, Education Mike had me chortling. Oh, noooooooooooooooooooooooo.

    Entirely unrelated, but a mortification of my own:

    Back when I worked at Starbucks, the mix of ADHD brain and overcaffeination meant that some things coming out of my mouth were… interesting. Usually, it was just mixing up drink names. But two weekends a year, we had a local arts festival just outside our store, which led to huge crowds and ridiculously busy days, and by the time the sun set and the festival ended, I’d be drained to no end.

    Toward the end of the festival one year, a guy to get a drink, with his ridiculously cute friend in tow. All he ordered was a cup of water. Since we’d been trying to encourage people to bring their cups back for refills instead of getting entirely new water cups, I *attempted* to say “If you need more water, just bring the cup back and we’ll refill it for you!” with my best customer service smile. But exhaustion, overcaffeination, and cute-boy-jitters all kicked in at once. I held up my hand like I was squeezing something, and what made it out of my mouth was “More water…. cup me.”

    The only thing I could do was full-on sprint to the back room. I didn’t even see how he reacted.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      This reminded me of the unfortunate incident when a rep for a vendor company came into the office where I worked at the time. The man was blindingly hot. He was talking to my coworker and I was so flustered I spilled an entire cup of coffee all over the desk right in front of him.

  42. Kazza*

    Anyone who hasn’t seen it: google NZ Health Minister making a faux pas during a live covid news conference.

  43. Recovered Twitween*

    Oh man, some of these stories awoke deeply hidden memories I thought I had blanked out from years and years ago.

    The scene: It was 2006. Twilight fever was all the rage. I was a shy, introverted, clumsy 13 year old girl, the target demographic. “Emo” kids were all over the place and I thought myself a grungier, cooler emo kid than all the other emo kids around.

    All my life, I had been involved in working with the local zoo, and had always dreamed of becoming a “Zoo Teen” when I grew up. They got to help out with the animals more and got to work with the younger kids, educating them and park guests about animals and I thought it was the coolest job in the world. It was what I had always wanted to do, and I was so excited to become one as soon as I was officially a “teen.” I scheduled my interview to the Zoo Teen program and my friend also scheduled hers at the same time so we would be interviewing together. I felt the need to be edgy and cool around my friend because I saw myself as the edgier, cooler friend between us.

    When we got to the interview, they asked us a few questions and finally asked us to use a word to describe ourselves. My silly behind decided the appropriate answer to that was to blurt out “Vampire!” and then offer no follow up explanation. The rest of my answers were similarly cringe-y and inappropriate….

    Needless to say, I didn’t become a Zoo Teen and I never tried out again, too embarrassed and ashamed to return.

    I have all sorts of regrets about it but oh well. The maturity clearly wasn’t there, yet.

    1. pancakes*

      The story is funny but I’m sorry too, I wish you’d gone back and tried again at some point! One of the coolest features of our local zoo is the bat house and I like to think edgy vampire teens are welcome there, haha!

      Check out the old SNL skits for Goth Talk if you haven’t seen them. They’re probably before your time but similar vibe.

    2. Princesss Sparklepony*

      You should have followed up with “Bat, Vampire Bat!”

      I kind of think you should have gotten the Zoo Teen job for coming up with vampire – it was all the rage then, you would have been perfect for connecting with other kids.

  44. Cat Mouse*

    #5 reminds me of an infamous story at an IT call center I used to work at.

    Agent gets a call, sometime in troubleshooting it was determined the next course of action would be a disk check, which isn’t handled while on a call. Per policy the agent creates a ticket with a copy to the customer in case they want to reply with other questions, etc.

    Welp the agent wrote that they would be performing a dick check and would advise of any issues arising from it.

    Apparently the typo was politely ignored except by the QA team who teased the agent about the typo and it became an office legend

    1. Reinsurance*

      Oh you just made me remember my time working with a consultant whose email signature proudly declared that he was a Certified Scum Master.

      He did eventually fix it to Scrum, but not before a few of us got a good chuckle in.

  45. Ruthenium*

    The headphone thing happened to me too! My Bluetooth earbuds disconnected randomly so the entire, SILENT office heard Justin McElroy proclaim “this motherf*****!”

    I hit pause in record time and my coworker buddy DIED laughing in the next cube, thankfully nothing else came of it except a great cautionary tale.

    1. Jessica Ganschen*

      And now I’m trying desperately not to laugh while thinking about the best/worst MBMBAM bits to blast out to your entire office. Tit Liquid, furries can do infinite crime, eat a** and podcast…

  46. Kello*

    The wrong word…
    Right out of school I had a boss who would alternately call me “kid” and “toots”…until the day he couldn’t decide between the two and called me “tits”. We just stared at each other in stunned silence and he only ever called me by my name after that.

  47. peregrina*

    #16 reminded me of a mortification story of my own:
    After college I joined the AmeriCorps, working on a team-based environmental program where we did lots of different projects mostly involving manual labor (trail building and that kind of thing). Halfway through I got the opportunity to work on a research project with a potential employer in my field of interest, so I was super excited and eager to impress.

    I show up for my first day of work, and my boss has all-day meetings with bigwigs from the national office and my field vehicle isn’t ready yet. So he hands my partner and I the keys to his brand-new rig with all the bells and whistles, and sends us out to inspect our study site in an area that had flooded earlier in the year. I drive, and we get out near the field site and see a Road Closed sign, but keep going anyway. Then I see some mud on the road, but I’ve driven on muddy roads before and that’s not going to stop me!

    Umm, yeah. Halfway across the washout I’m so stuck that even in 4-low I can’t budge. I have to call my boss on the radio, interrupt his meeting with the bigwigs, and have him send a bulldozer to pull us out of the mud. I was sure he was going to send me back and get a replacement, but I finished out the project – and am still working in this field today!

  48. Chickaletta*

    The wrong word part 126:

    Just today, folks, I was in charge of creating breakout rooms for a large online meeting of senior leaders and, wanting everything to go smoothly, I was a bit nervous. Just before I opened them up I said something to the effect of “Here we go into the break up rooms! Er, breakout rooms”. The facilitating VP said he hoped it wasn’t the break up rooms just before everyone disappeared from screen LOL. But I’ve been embarrassed so many times in my life that things like this don’t bother me much anymore, just thought I would add it here.

    P.S. – Everything went well after that.

    1. Chickaletta*

      PPS – What made it even better was everyone was put into pairs in the “breakup” rooms

  49. EAW*

    My own mortification stories:
    (1) I once told a colleague in my field (“John”) that “it was great to hear” of another colleague (“Dan”)’s recent death … which was NOT AT ALL what I had meant to say! I had always liked Dan and was genuinely sorry and upset at his rather sudden death. John leads a professional organization in our field that had sent out a notice of his death, which was the only way I had known of it, since my own and Dan’s (large) employer hadn’t even notified me (to be fair, we worked on different teams, though within the same overall department). So what I was trying to convey was basically “it was a great service you did to let us know of his passing” … but it didn’t come out that way at all, and there was no time to explain or correct myself, as the elevator ride was ending. To this day I still think of that and wonder if John thinks I had it in for Dan …

    (2) I once hung up on my boss when he was in the middle of telling me I didn’t get a promotion I had applied for. Or at least, that’s how it probably seemed to him! In reality my office phone was crappy and often dropped calls. When I realized the call was dropped, I immediately called him back and said something to the effect of “I promise I did NOT just hang up on you!” – which I now realize probably made the whole thing way more awkward, because a reasonably boss talking to a reasonable employee wouldn’t have assumed that in the first place.

  50. Sandra*

    Just starting out in my job. Visited a client on a really hot day wore an untested button up tank top. While standing in front of her, can’t remember what I was doing, I raised my arms and the buttons unbuttoned in the middle of my chest. It felt like I was living in a terrible movie, except I was too old for this. Thank goodness it was a female client.

  51. Quill*

    Pffft we did that one in spanish class too. Along with announcing that you ate the color orange or want a backpack that is an orange. And then announcing your pregnancy when your mistakes are pointed out.

  52. Quake*

    My own Education Mike story:

    At the grocery store I worked in we punched in on your typical electronic timeclock, and if for some reason you failed to punch in/out (you were 15+ minutes late, you were called in hence not in the schedule, etc) you were supposed to write why on the clipboard nearby.

    One day someone wrote “Phone died” as in, they’re phone alarm didn’t wake them up so they came in late. However, this person’s handwriting wasn’t the greatest so it looked like “Diane died.” (We had two employees named Diane.) After we pieced together what it actually said we all had a good chuckle at the idea someone would just write down “Diane missed punching in this morning because she died, please excuse her.”

  53. Bowserkitty*

    #1: “My mentor quietly canceled our weekly one on one meetings the next week.”

    I mean, it sounds like you’d accomplished it all. ahahahaha

  54. MassChick*

    I laughed. I choked on my lunch. I cough-cried. Each time I thought a mortification couldn’t be topped, along came another hilariously brilliant piece. Thanks to all the wonderful writers. Your mortification hasn’t been in vain. It has brought sorely needed laughter into our lives :)

  55. Rose Absolute*

    ‘The damsels broke free’. :D As a fellow well-stacked wench, I’m so stealing that. When I’ve stopped giggling and snortling, that is.

    1. Atalanta*

      There but by the grace of god go I. Anyone who has breasts and has spent any time working at Faire has at least one boobage-related mishap. Mine never made a run for it although I’m guilty of absentmindedly doing the adjust and fluff on public.

      1. quill*

        The scoop maneuver sometimes carries over to when you simply feel a wire poking into you and you’re not wearing garb…

        1. Petty Betty*

          I wear corsets outside of fair (because my spine sucks), and I fluctuate between a G and a K cup, so adjusting my closest enemies happens a lot, and it’s not something I can do discretely.

  56. Media Monkey*

    only a man would spec office chairs in any colour other than black/ dark grey. i had the same situation in a lovely new office where the chairs were either pale pink or pale blue. i covered it with a cardigan and came in early the next day to try and clean it, and then faked a coffee spill to cover up the fact that the chair was soaking wet and the likely eventual stain (and then swapped out my chair with someone who left in an office move)

    1. Panhandlerann*

      Back when my younger daughter was about to be born, my water broke when I was sitting in the waiting room in the maternity ward at the hospital, waiting for a moment to be sent to a room. This soaked the chair I was sitting on, which was one of a roomful of brand-new (as I learned from a nurse), nicely upholstered light blue chairs. I wondered (and still wonder) why they had such chairs in that particular waiting room.

  57. MangoAngel*

    The phrase “titty-slapped toddler” is not one I ever expected to read. Or to laugh myself silly over…

  58. Dana Whittaker*

    #13 is why I use an 11x magnification mirror on a daily basis when applying makeup. There is one hair that very stubbornly keeps coming back to a specific spot on my cheek. I also have tweezers that live in my car because – hand to God – that is the best light for catching that kind of thing ever!

  59. I hate phone calls*

    I have a mortification week story….

    Long, long ago, when I was applying for internships for the first time, I got a call back from a small consulting firm but somehow missed it and only realized about an hour later. As it was 2 PM, I figured it wouldn’t be wildly unreasonable to call back. One thing about me is that I used to have extreme phone anxiety, and my lack of experience with speaking on the phone only exacerbated this. I wrote up an entire script, rehearsed it to myself a few times, and finally mustered up the nerve to call. For all my overthinking, I NEVER expected to be sent to voicemail. So there I was, suddenly flabbergasted because my whole script had just gone out the window. But surely I could just say a simple “My name is XXX and I’m calling back about YYY. Please give me a call back at….” Wrong. Totally wrong. I ended up saying “Oh my God!” Then, realizing I said it out loud, said “OH MY GOD” again and then hung up. Since then I’ve vowed to just hang up if I get sent to voicemail.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Hahaha I would’ve been so confused to get this VM!
      When I have a difficult call to make (which has happened to me a LOT recently, a family member is going through some stuff and I’ve been calling places I’d never had to call before), I have a written script in front of me of what I need to say. If it goes to VM, then so does the script. I just read it off my handy piece of paper.

  60. Darny*

    I have a similar-ish story to Education Mike:

    Worked on a young staff for a youth programming organization, my boss Emily was 26 years old and the grand-boss was probably 35. We showed up one morning to set up for a fairly major event that Emily was chairing, and she’s missing. Grand-boss convenes the staff to explain that he’s taken over chairing the event because Emily’s partner had suffered a heart attack and passed away the night before. We were of course stunned at the tragic news of the sudden death of this guy our age who we knew pretty well from organization functions and after-work socializing. Grand-boss responded confusingly nonchalantly to our questions, even mentioning at one point that “death is sad but it’s part of life”

    It wasn’t until half an hour later that he realized what had happened and clarified that Emily’s *mother’s* partner had passed…

  61. Meowww*

    Oof, I have also been #15. It was in an interview and I hadn’t realized I had gotten my period. I stand up once the interview is over, see the chair in horror, push that chair in, tie my coat around my waist because of course I’m wearing light-colored pants, and walk as fast as humanly possible out of the office. Nope, nothing weird about someone wearing a coat tied around their waist in January, totally normal, everything is fine!

    I didn’t get the job.

  62. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    Least this makes me feel better about the time I was in an online meeting ( not the type you talk in, we’re on zoom working) my mic was on and people noticed that I was enjoying the musical stylings of The Offspring because I’m an old and embarrassing millennial ( don’t worry. Somebody just said like your music)

  63. Rev Potty Mouth*

    I used to be the associate pastor of a pretty chill, pretty liberal church. Clergy are just regular people, and many of the pastors I know, including me, have potty mouths that no one expects because of our job. I generally don’t swear in front of congregants.
    The senior pastor with whom I worked would walk/process out of the sanctuary during the closing hymn. One Sunday it felt like nothing had gone right in worship, and when we got to the narthex I turned to my colleague and said “man that was a f—-king s—t show today.” I hear loud laughter from the AV booth in the sanctuary. Turns out my lapel mic was still on. It wasn’t audible to the congregation, thankfully, but the sound volunteers caught it.

  64. Seashell*

    Grooming the seniors’ dongs and extending the testicles were hysterical, but Education Mike is Dead FTW.

    I had someone try to brush a chin hair I hadn’t noticed off me while I was driving. Luckily, it was a good friend, we were alone, and we just laughed.

  65. TinySoprano*

    #14 reminds me of one my singing teacher had back when he was a principal tenor singing operas in Europe. He was singing in Salome, came onstage and promptly got kicked in the head by an errant dancer. Sang a whole duet with blood flowing freely down his face, somehow unaware of that fact and wondering why the soprano was staring at him in horror. And out of all his wild stories this was probably the least wild one.

  66. Former_Employee*

    The scale model of Stonehenge and the little Druids was just adorable.

    However, the idea of tit slapping a toddler and referring to said body part and her partner as “jailbirds” and “damsels” is one of the funniest things I’ve ever read.

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